It seems today that any kind of music with punk in the title is always preceded by the words pop, hardcore, emo, ect. Nothing against any of those genres, but it is nice to see that some bands can still call themselves just straight up punk, even if the album I'm talking about came out in '94. Down By Law is plagued with constant line-up changes, but at the time of the recording of this album, they were:
Dave Smalley: Vocals, Guitar
Sam Williams: Guitar
Angry John Di Mambro: Guitar
Hunter Oswald: Drums
This is the first and only Down By Law album I own or have ever heard, so I can't really tell you anything about their other albums.
Punkrockacademyfightsong (yes, it's supposed to be that way) is one of the most energetic, raw, and youthful albums I have heard in a long time. From the explosive intro of Punk Won to the insane (yet short) ender of Sam II, it's easy to see that anybody who owns this album has picked a sure winner. Staying true the the legacy laid down by The Clash, Down By Law write songs about loneliness , alienation, and how revolution can fix the problems of society. They are highly explicit, yet very intelligent. It would be difficult to find a song in which the lyrics did not follow these guidelines, all above examples are contained in nearly every song, the best of which include The King And I, which mostly speaks of revolution (and also includes a short, yet awesome guitar solo) Yet a few songs even sing of love, including Flower Tattoo (hair is gold and her eyes are blue, I'm in love with the girl with the flower tattoo) and the cover of The Proclaimers song, 500 miles, which is the only time I can ever enjoy a Proclaimers song (I just don't like them). The cheesiest, yet most loving song on the album, though, is Goodnight Song, which features Dave crooning softly over an ingenious guitar line. While on the subject of instruments, now would be a good time to mention the instrumental part of the album. The guitar work varies from raw, energy soaked songs, such as Punk Won, to a slow ballad type song as found in the above mentioned song, Goodnight Song. The bass is very rarely audible, the most bass you will hear is inside the song 500 Miles. The drums fall back onto the traditional punk rock style, as seen in songs like Minusame and Chocolate Jerk, although it does have its moments of interest, including Bright Green Globe and 1944.
The variation of songs is amazing. A person would be hard pressed to find a song that sounds even remotely similar to another song on the album. From the wild shouting of Heroes and Hooligans and Haircut to the soft and melodic sounds of Goodnight Song, any fan of punk music can find something to like. Although every song follows the same lyrical plan, every song says something different. Chocolate Jerk is about alienation and hatred, while Hit or Miss is about failure, although every person will have different interpretations of the songs on this album. The instruments never play the same thing in different songs, no example necessary for that point. A few songs, such as Brief Tommy, Drummin' Dave, Hunter Up, Sam 1, and Sam 11 are very short, pointless, studio fun and mayhem where there isn't really a song structure or anything, but they are entertaining.
So, for an album that can appeal to any fan of bands like The Clash and several other punk acts, or any fan of punk at all, go for Down By Law's Punkrockacademyfightsong. Although not as political as the bands name suggests, even a political punk fand can find something to love here. This gets my highest reccomendation, so go pick it up.
*Yes, that's right, I didn't mention every song, but that would leave no room for surprises for new listeners.